Friday, October 31, 2014

The Monsters Among Us

October 30, 2012

With Halloween approaching, people turn their attention to the spooky and the scary, reveling in stories and images of ghosts, ghouls and witches for the holiday. However, while some monstrous characters only come out to play in October; others enjoy attention year round.

For example, in recent years, vampire media has gained popularity, from Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" series of books and films to HBO's "True Blood," which finished its fifth season this summer. Zombies have recently seen a resurgence in popularity as well, evidenced by new takes on the genre, such as Zach Synder's 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead," Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" and Edgar Wright's "Shaun of the Dead." Zombies have even shambled onto the television screen with AMC's "The Walking Dead."

Hollywood is quick to cash in on what's popular, but why do themes gain popularity in the first place? Does the prevalence of a certain monster reflect what's going on in our society today?

Dostoevsky and Spiritualism

By Thomas E. Berry, University of Maryland

From the reign of Catherine the Great to the Revolution of 1917, Russian society and literature were affected by the relationship between Western spiritualism with its seances and mediums and an ancient folk tradition with its superstitions and fancifulness. The common Russian belief in spirits, combined with the Western occult science, brought charlatans into the highest court circles throughout the last hundred and fifty years of the Romanov's rule. Cagliostro drew the attention of Catherine II; the Baroness Krudener instructed Alexander I; D.D. Home had the patronage of Alexander II; and Rasputin and Dr. Philippe had a close relationship with Nicholas II. The Czars were the inheritors of two strong social forces: a folk tradition based on the mystical and the miraculous dating back hundreds of years and a fervent search for historical and spiritual meaning among the Russian intelligentsia. Only Nicholas I failed to understand the popularity of spiritualism in Russia and his jack of interest separated him from the mainstream of Russian life. Most Russian monarchs were greatly influenced by the spread of spiritualistic forces. It was as if folk superstitions and Western spiritualism were destined to blend together and contribute to the fall of the Russian Empire.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock on Filmmaking, Suspense, Nightmares and more (video)

"I Deal In Nightmares." - Alfred Hitchcock

The video below is a 20 minute interview from 1966 with Alfred Hitchcock on filmmaking, simplification of identification, visual clarity, actors and improvisation, the Hitchcock-woman, humor of the macabre, being a traditionalist, making television, suspense and more....

"An audience should be given all the facts. For example if you take suspense, suspense can only be achieved by telling the audience as much as you can... We could be blown up this minute and the audience would get five seconds of shock, but if we tell them five minutes ahead of time there is a bomb that's going to go off, that would get five minutes of suspense where we didn't have suspense before because the audience were in ignorance." - Alfred Hitchcock

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

G.K. Chesterton on Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

Robert Louis Stevenson

In my opinion, the last chapter of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the best written chapter in any book in the English language, as far as I've read, and it is one of my favorite fictional stories. G.K. Chesterton is one of the few Christian thinkers who holds a similar high regard for Stevenson and his philosophical romances, as expressed below:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" as a Response to Miltonian Christianity

By Joseph Pearce

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the most influential novels of the nineteenth century. From the very beginning, on the title page itself, we are given tantalizing clues concerning the aesthetic and philosophical roots of Mary Shelley's inspiration and perhaps an inkling of her purpose. In giving Frankenstein the alternative title of The Modern Prometheus, and coupling it with the epigraph conveying Adam's complaint from Paradise Lost, we see the leitmotif established concerning the relationship between Creator, creature, and creativity. The allusion to the Prometheus myth conjures images of the creation of man in defiance of the gods; the citation of Adam's complaint conjures the image of the creation of man in defiance of man:

"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man?
Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?"

Friday, October 10, 2014

Exercising the Brain With Reading

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The era of the economic crisis has been consistent with the sales of books; people do not buy new books and hence they do not read. Most make out with what is given to them for free or with television. However, reading books can be an "antidote" to the economic crisis, and it can help us in many ways.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe As A Philhellene

By John Sanidopoulos

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on the 19th of January, 1809. In 1822 he entered the University of Charlottesville where he studied Greek and obtained distinctions in Latin and French in 1826. His love for the Greek language, Greek mythology and ancient Greece are clearly evident in his poetry.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dostoevsky On Edgar Allan Poe

Excerpt from the Russian translation of the introduction to The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, and The Devil in the Belfry titled:

Three Tales of Edgar Poe

By Fyodor M. Dostoevsky (Vremia, 1861)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Elder Paisios: "Light Reading Does Not Redeem"

Elder, when someone is tired or upset, he usually wants to read something light and easy, a short story or a novel, perhaps, or something like that.